Why is Humanity Plagued by War?
Blackwater is a private military company based in North Carolina and it has over 20,000 mercenaries, and an even greater number of security personnel, working within Iraq today. Sub-contracted by the US government, many Blackwater mercenaries walk with almost full legal impunity amongst the soldiers of the US army. One only has to look at the lucrative and non-tendered contracts handed out by the Bush administration to companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bechtel, Halliburton or the Carlyle Group – and then analyse the relationships of these companies to key advisers such as James Baker, Henry Kissinger, Paul Bremer, Richard Perle or George Shultz – to see a potential pattern emerging.
We should, of course, be mindful of the dangers of blindly accepting what is known as ‘cui bono’ (or ‘who benefits’) as a means of establishing political motive. It is also worth our examining what is known as the historian’s fallacy. The fallacy states that it is easy, with historical hindsight, to argue that politicians possess the remarkable ability to know what will come next. Whilst such an argument may be applicable to recent claims relating to the alleged conspiracy of 9/11 as a pre-text to war, it is far less applicable when it comes to cases where we – the general public – can see the awarding of non-tendered contracts to companies on the inside in the presence of more local, equitable and equally visible and present alternatives. What we saw in the post-invasion period in Iraq was a prime example of unfettered capitalism in a world where money is king. These companies may be opportunistic, taking full advantage of the war in Iraq or the War on Terror, however this is celebrated on Wall Street or on the London Stock Exchange. Laissez-faire / neoliberal capitalism does not distinguish between how profits are made, so long as they are made; even if they are soiled in blood or founded on the principle of social inequality. Diamonds, arms and precious minerals all generate profit with little regard to human cost. Are these Iraq war contracts any different? Are they emergent without influence or conspiracy? Did these companies sponsor neo-con hawks to persuade the White House to go to war? For these companies there is an obvious profit motive for war.
The question we should ask ourselves is this: Just how unbridled has modern capitalism truly become? Is war inevitable within our current economic model?
The shining examples of intellectual prowess, as listed above, have had their hands in the coffers of the war machine all along. Whilst sitting on the board of directors or in their capacity as stockholders, they’ve been able simultaneously to give the president the ‘best specialist advice there is’. Now if the shareholders, stockholders and board members of various defence, security and reconstruction companies are directly advising, lobbying and influencing US foreign policy, or perhaps even the policy makers themselves have vested interests, surely this could be a principle cause of war and a good area to start an investigation? If there is no incentive for peace within the executive branch of power because the various members of the ‘boys’ club’ are all getting rich through lucrative war contracts, there will never be peace.
Political and social commentators like Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky have meticulously examined the processes of social shock therapy and manufactured consent, and they have skilfully demonstrated the mechanics of war propaganda. Propaganda leads humanity to war and violence, for it is your son and my son who do the actual fighting. But is this the actual cause of war? Is war the result of the politically motivated policies of the industrial military complex, the disaster capitalism complex or the international bankers who seek to bankroll both sides of a conflict? Is it due to the greed and corruption of certain industrialists who seek to secure scarce global resources? Is it a by-product of the 21st century war machine, which is now almost fully privatised with legal impunity in both the United States and the theatre of battle? This machine has every incentive to milk conflicts across the globe for every last dollar possible to extract. So how should we respond? Do we fight only for economic interests, and can we ever separate those interests from the seat of power?
We may look to the abstract causes of greed and power, but it seems absurd to blame an abstraction. You can blame money, but then that will be your conclusion. Then what? Blame power, and all you can do is vote in a new generation of politicians to take over. Does anything ever really change? You can’t simply blame a few individuals who are on the make, or say it is down to greed and let that be the end of it. Greed – for money, for power – is a symptom of a bigger problem. It is a dysfunction derived from our misunderstanding of certain truths. Don’t blame greed or say, “I must not be greedy.” Such a statement is itself a form of greed. Instead, understand why greed comes into being and how it is never separate from you. Watch yourself as greed. It is the understanding of oneself that is important, never the ideal that one must not be greedy. This is what we have always done, this kindergarten approach that dictates rules which must be followed. Look at the world today, as it is today. Clearly we need a new approach to a very old problem.
For example we often create ideas that are not actually real, something conceptual like this idea that we have of ‘society’. There is no such thing as society; society is not real, it is just a collective abstraction. There is only you and I, your neighbour and his children and the people you and they meet; there is only human consciousness and human relationship. The problem of war is a problem of relationship. There is a fundamental crisis of consciousness in the world today. Most relationships are a form of trade, they are based upon mutual gain or benefit; our consciousness is programmed to think only in terms of results. There is also a 21st century indoctrination of consciousness on the War on Terror; the mind of the soldier and also your mind. You may laugh and think, “The soldier is unconscious where I am not.” You are both unconscious, you are both asleep because neither of you love.
Let’s go into it.
Why do you accept that a competitive, conflicting and ambitious way of life is inevitable, that it is ‘the norm’? Let’s question whether this is the only available process of existence, or whether it is simply the product of our conditioning and education. We tend to accept the inevitability of competition, of corruption and conflict, without question. We go along with this, accepting the existence of ‘the system’ that is beyond our power to change or question. Instead, we seek security in our own way. You say, “Everyone must love for the world to be peaceful, for it to work. Therefore love is a waste of time, a silly utopian ideal, it will never happen. It’s better just to look after myself, or the interests of my family.” We can’t change the world until each of us sees what we are doing, being so ambitious, finding security in all sorts of ideals and beliefs. Love is neither an ideal nor a belief, and it is certainly not a philosophy. Find out what love is, only then will you be peaceful. The revolution begins at the level of the individual and only then will society change. Will you make that change in understanding within yourself? To see the truth of love will bring freedom, and that freedom will affect others. It is not money and power that cause war; you and I, in our ignorance, cause war.
“Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your leaders.” Buddha (ad lib)
The truth of all authority is based on deception, for love has no hierarchy or preference. Indifference exists because humans are more interested in our own pleasure than we are in justice. This is an indisputable fact. This is why billions around the world suffer. We think that corruption goes hand in hand with power, but we have failed to understand the true nature of the human ego; that it is we who are fundamentally corrupt. This inward corruption is on as big a scale as the corruption of the politicians and the global players. We all wish to become something more, achieve something great, be better than we are. If this is what guides all of our choices in life, then of course corruption is unavoidable. Each layer of consciousness – the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’ – is being strengthened; working for itself, working for its own security. Your preoccupation with memory is strengthened; you live in the present through the past, through memory. This is no way to solve a problem like war, as humanity continually refers to the past instead of looking at it afresh. You create a future according to the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’, you live stuck in time, time-bound and sluggish; there cannot be love. When the ego is fully understood, only then is it possible for love to come into being and with it non-exclusive care, attention and affection for all. It is precisely because so many of us are not paying attention that we have such a corrupt and unequal world. The politicians are there because we have put them there, through our ignorance and our inability to face up to our fear.
Belief and Apathy
Belief and apathy are the principle causes of destruction. Belief – in a particular dogma, in an ideology, in a country, in a leader or in the idea of individual or collective superiority – leads to identification, and attachment. Wherever there is attachment to a goal or to an ideal there can be no humility. Without humility love becomes just an idea, an abstraction, something that isn’t remotely real. In identification there may be devotion, but devotion cannot ever be love because behind all devotion there is motive. You are greedy in the worship of your gods, or your country, or your political or economic ideal. Your worship becomes a form of barter, something to be traded: “I jump through this hoop and then that hoop and in return you give me salvation or satisfaction.” There is no such thing as individual salvation, nor is there such a thing as lasting psychological satisfaction. And when the idea becomes all-important, then there is love only for yourself and not for others, which is not love at all. Look at the devastating structural readjustment packages the IMF has imposed on debt-ridden countries all over the world. Your Friedmanite or free market ideal, just like your communist ideal, or any ideal in fact, is self-projected and therefore an object of human vanity. You may have imported that idea from the outside and others may share your point of view, but your solidarity is nothing but identification and therefore merely something that makes the ego feel more secure. Love is not an exchange, nor is it something that can be fought over. It is something that comes into being only when one can put all such ideas and motives aside. Love has no dependency; it never asks for anything in return. Devotion to your god, your ideology or your country is what brings about the destruction in this world. Belief cannot bring people together; it never has in the past nor will it in the future. Only love unites. Only the love that begins and is without end unites.
If you identify with something larger than yourself, with your nation, your petty nationalistic flag, you soon become bound by that identification. Your love comes with a whole host of attachments; it becomes something to be measured. Belief may unify people at a superficial level, but if you go deeper you will find that eventually it divides and separates. And what is divided will inevitably come into conflict with its opposite. A world where action can exist free from the idea would be a totally different world. Then there would be care, love and affection. Then all war would cease. But we cannot act without ideas; the idea has become so tremendously important in our lives. These ideas tend to be delivered to us via distorted propaganda, by a ruling elite hell-bent on power, money, hidden empires and prestige, but that does not change the reality of why ‘the idea’ has become so important in our lives.
Why is belief so important to people? Perhaps we find security in belief, but is such security actually real, or is it false? Is it our desire for security that is the actual cause of war? The desire for security is corrupting in its very nature. Look at it. Find out. Something must be causing groups of us to project outwardly, forcefully, onto others. Manipulated desire, by those in authority and those who deceptively claim to be in a genuine position of power, aggravates our problems thereby causing us to project. All authority is based on deception, but you cannot see that deception because you are blinded by motive. You are greedy, you are looking to gain. You may be looking for security, comfort, or merely to remain undisturbed in your luxurious life, but the true cost is written in somebody else’s blood.
We are willing to kill each other for the idea of security. Do you see how absurd this idea is? We are willing to sacrifice the present, which is actual, real, for an idea that may perhaps exist in the future. If I am seeking security in a set of beliefs but my beliefs clash with yours (as they inevitably will) then we find ourselves in a position of physical insecurity. My craving for psychological security, alongside your craving for psychological security, breeds physical insecurity as we fight over not just the necessities of life – shelter, water and food – but also over the abstractions of psychological ideas. “My belief verses your belief!” See this for the nonsense that it is, and live without belief effortlessly because you have seen the truth of it. See how all belief is born of ignorance, so don’t be ignorant. Find out what is right relationship to others and the world around you. The mastery of tantric bliss is complete freedom from the self-projected desires and fears of the ego. We are then able to meet others in empathy; a deep harmony and communion without ever demanding our narcissistic needs be met. The problem of a power struggle is subsequently removed. Then we can live at peace. Then we will be free of fighting over the luxuries of the world (over mineral resources, such as gold) – luxuries that make us superficially feel a little more secure.
Can there be security in accumulation, in building attachments – to property, land ownership, assets, to our own little pension fund – in carving out our own corner in the world and then calling what is behind our fence “mine”? Is that security? Are you sure? Is there not the fear of losing whatever it is that we have accumulated or seek to accumulate? This process of fear and accumulation only leads to border controls and military action to protect the idea of security whenever it is threatened, and which you will whole heartedly support if your way of life is potentially disturbed. Others are suffering, others are in pain, but you want to remain undisturbed just as you are: possessive, greedy and callous. Can there be love when there is such possessiveness, wanting to hold onto whatever it is that we have, thereby causing such unequal wealth distribution? Can there ever be peace when we each seek security through money, names, titles, prestige, position and power? Can there be security when each of us is so self-motivated? See the truth of this: the craving for psychological security – by you, by me or by one of your countrymen – itself breeds physical insecurity. Can there be love in a world that is driven by ambition and which is therefore so competitive, where we each create borders and fences behind which we say “stay out, this belongs to me!?”
It is clear that belief in a dogma, in a particular country, in a leader, in a set of ideals creates war. Knowing this, how can you be patriotic? How can you possibly follow a dogma? Can you not see these things as the abominations that they truly are? Instead we seek to impose our beliefs over others in order to feel more secure. It is belief that fires the trigger of a gun or steers one of those spy drones into a mountain village like some kind of computer game. That belief is naturally twisted by propaganda, by institutional racism (which is so prevalent in the army), in the labelling of the enemy and the ingrained sense of superiority against that label. When we think in terms of labels then of course there can be no relationship with the ‘other’.
The enemy soldier or combatant in an occupied territory is reduced to just a word, to an idea, to a worthless label. “How many combatants did you kill today?” boast the American soldiers in their army bases in Baghdad. And then they say they love their country and their families back home. Utter nonsense! They know no love at all. Have you seen the Wikileaks footage of a helicopter crew executing journalists and several passers-by? Notice how quickly (in the audio) the helicopter crew justify their actions of murder. “Shouldn’t have his kids in the car,” they say, as they execute a man in a van trying to rescue an injured passerby. Human lives are reduced to “collateral damage”. We’re told, “Too bad civilians are killed, but the end justifies the means.” This is the most abhorrent saying in human history. If you believe that the end justifies the means then you do not know what love is, what compassion is. “The civilian casualties are worth it,” you say. You are an ideological fool.
You say a man of love is a utopian dreamer, when it is the man living according to his ideas and ideals that is truly idealistic. It is he and also you – in your apathy – that is laying to waste to the present moment so that together you can build a better future. Any claim to know love or be acting from love is utter nonsense. You do not see the eyes of your victim, his face. You do not see the care and attention that he has for his mother and his family. All you see is a demonised version of the enemy in the form of a label, and then the substitution of that person, your fellow human, with that label. This is how the trigger of a gun is pulled. If there is authentic relationship with the other, without the image or a label interfering, you would neither be able to do it nor to support it. Soldiers only fire because they are hypnotized by propaganda, brainwashed by the establishment. They are deceived by the efficacy of their training, nothing more than pawns for the various power brokers who really don’t care about them, you or anyone else for that matter.
‘Military men are just dumb and stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.’ Henry Kissinger
Perhaps each soldier is motivated by his belief that he is part of a band of brothers. This idea is encouraged during training, emphasised by seniors and illustrated by film and propaganda. A well-known tactic employed by the military hierarchy is to purposefully under-equip troops. To purposefully send boys, or ‘infants’ (as they’re called in the infantry) into situations of antagonism so that one or two are killed. This loss then unifies the band of brothers into a unit who now share a common goal to protect each other, to keep each other safe. They all become a band of blood brothers in their shared hellhole. United, they look after one another, share the same goal, the same enemy. This is not love. A common goal is not love, it is mutual usage; it is self-survival, little more than shared dependency. Dependency is not, nor can it ever be love.
Soldiers lamenting the loss of their colleagues, filled with revenge and hatred for their opposing label – the ‘enemy’ – naturally lose all compassion, even their very humanity as they continue ‘doing their job’. How else can they justify the killing? The brain of a soldier justifies war as a way of protecting his homeland. Have you really looked? Do you know who was behind the sinking of the Lusitania, or Pearl Harbour, or The Gulf of Tonkin incident or 9/11? Have you really looked? Conspiracy theories around these events are rampant, but there is, as they say, no smoke without fire. Perhaps you are busy justifying your actions using the propaganda that you are force fed and forced to believe? Perhaps you have found yourself lining the streets of Wooten Bassett supporting paid murderers? Soldiers, mercenaries – ‘Our glorious and honourable army troops’ – what are your motives? Does war make you feel like a Big Man, strong and dependable with your gun and hand grenade? Is it a way of developing sensory acuity: acuity to kill, to murder sons, daughters and husbands? How many mothers have cried because of your stupidity? You stand there with your gun and hand grenade, giving it all the big ‘I am’. How many sons and brothers have been lost because you have blindly, stupidly obeyed politicians and military commanders?
Beliefs divide us. They may provide the illusion of security but we cannot escape the fact that all belief separates.
On the home front we are apathetic. As long as our little pleasures remain unaffected, as long as we can get on with our daily lives undisturbed the majority of us are happy to maintain the status quo. We accept war as inevitable, we do not stop to think about the sheer horror that it is. We cannot accept that we are each responsible for war. We support war just by paying our taxes or buying government bonds. We wish to maintain our security, our shoddy, narrow and pathetic lives back home; attached to our own little corner of the world and not wishing for that corner to be disturbed. The more respectable we are, the more we have accumulated, the more corrupted we are by our attachments. We invest in companies that rape and ravage the resources of the world so that we can feel more secure in our retirement plan. We do not stop to think about our place in this world, in this universe; we do not stop to question what it all might mean. We all cursed BP when they spilt oil in the Gulf yet we are quite happy to accept the BP dividend in our pension funds. We are hypocrites! We want to maintain things as they are, unwilling to risk our property, our money or the position that makes us feel secure. We feel enmity for anyone who threatens whatever it is that we have. We are unwilling to share because we are greedy. We reject the simple life, not just outwardly but also inwardly in our thoughts, relationships and actions.
War is not an external problem; an issue ‘out there’ which we, as individuals, are too small to effect. War is a projection of our inner conflict. It is the outward manifestation of an inward problem, the fractal multiplication of what is taking place at the level of the individual. We are the cause of war. We are dysfunctional in our daily activity. We are motivated, ambitious, thoughtless and self-centred. We each search for fulfilment in our own unique way and when that way is thwarted frustration arises. If your frustration remains unreleased, you become aggressive. Don’t say you want peace in the world when inwardly you strive for more – more property, more attachment, more outward signs of success. Behind all your airs and graces, when your strivings are blocked your inner demons soon emerge. Watch yourself when you are disturbed. See how quickly you become frustrated when the road ahead is filled with obstacles. Frustration, distraction and impatience all indicate just how corrupt you have become. Watch how your mind justifies itself and its need for security. No matter what you are ambitious about – money, god, charity or status – the very fact that you are ambitious means that you are corrupt. And when you are corrupt, society will also be corrupt. This corruption runs systemically behind the superficial level of our politicians and multinational business leaders.
Ambition for god, for the highest, has caused religious war. Ambition for the ideal, communist or capitalist, has caused genocide and mass killing. Ambition for money has caused tension over natural resources. Look at yourself and be brutal. You have climbed over others to get what you want. You have exploited, manipulated, cheated; you have done whatever you can to get ahead. So don’t turn around and say you want a world of peace. Don’t be a hypocrite!
“I’m only aggressive when the things that I desire are denied. All that needs to be done is to meet our human desires, for there be economic growth for all and then there will be no more war”.
Is that what you think? Can it ever even be possible to ‘meet our human desires’? Between our clinging and our craving we do not stand a chance. Our possessiveness possesses us. We cannot give up our own little corner – our parties, our family holidays, our retirement plan. Others are starving, others are dying but this is not what you act upon. You act for yourself, with the occasional gesture of charity just to make yourself feel better. You act for your own gain and then you say that you care, you say that you love.
Have you ever thought about the true nature of desire? Instead you are concerned only about your own lot. And so long as all your desires are realised, all is well. You are not aggressive as long as you are not disturbed. But when you are disturbed, woe betide anyone who gets in your way. Then you will support armies to maintain your comfortable little cushion.
Why are you frustrated? Where exactly do you want to go? You have been conditioned into thinking that this life is short and that you must maximise your pleasure, and so of course everything seems like a race. It is because we do not know the true nature of fulfilment that we are each troubled, and everyone around you is equally troubled. A world where each of us is deeply troubled, each of us is self-motivated and self-concerned now seems normal. This is how we have built our world. Our world is competitive; it is built on goals. When two goals collide, of course there is conflict.
The shocking truth is that we think all this is normal. You are the cause of war. Don’t blame others. It is not the only bankers who profit, it is not only the corporations who sponsor state terror, it is you. You are cause of all of this. You – just like me, just like the next man.
So what are we going to do? Are we going to remain competitive and ambitious? Are we going to identify with the Queen or the party because inside we feel petty, shoddy, lonely and limited? Look clearly at the limited nature of identification; it may seem expansive at first but when examined it can be reduced to mere self-projection. You forget yourself and your shoddy life by escaping into something that you perceive to be larger than yourself – something worthwhile, noble, respectable and grand. Can you not see the nature of dependency on another or on an ideal? Identification is an escape and all escape is fear. All escape prevents you from seeing ‘what is’. There you are, wearing a uniform ready to kill others, ready to support those who kill others who are just as ignorant as yourself. All of this in the name of Queen and Country; the pomp, the ceremony, the nauseating reverence on the streets of London. Honouring the fallen on Remembrance Sunday, honouring those who, like fools, have been killed. Have you abdicated all critical thinking for yourself? Are you going to transform yourself so that the seeds of war cannot be sewn again? All of this is down to us. It is not down to the politicians, the governments or the United Nations to save the day. They have always failed and they will continue to fail because the current political system is intrinsically flawed.
“All politicians are by definition dysfunctional, unless they are willing to expose the system for what it is. Instead they are trying to tinker with it according to their own self-projections, and can be manipulated, oh so easily…” Cornelius Crowley
In fact when you look closely it is often these political characters who are the most hawkish and inwardly corrupt. Richard Nixon described Donald Rumsfeld as a “ruthless little bastard” when he was rising through the ranks, and that was from Nixon! There is no such thing as power corrupting. Those who seek power are already corrupt. To seek, to achieve is corruption. To ask those who exist within a system that fosters such a dysfunctional state of mind to bring about a fairer and more just society is analogous to asking your local priest for sex advice or an anorexic for advice on nutrition. And don’t think that the Obama administration is going to be much different from the past. (Privately I consider this administration more dangerous than all of its predecessors.) It is down to you and your friends to transform your thinking and your action so that war can never happen again. In a society that is truly awake its leadership will respond with love and empathy. Indeed in an awake society, its leadership would be apprehensive to even lead. There would be no political campaigning. All campaigning indicates ambition and therefore dysfunction. It is precisely because the world is asleep that we have the current political system, and with it a representative layer of corruption at the level of the political and economic elite.
We have said that the search for fulfilment can take many forms – money, power, position, adoration, respect – and we disguise this craving inside our daily activities. If each and every one of us is bound by such conflict, then society itself will be a reflection of this process. Wherever there is antagonism, conflict is inevitable. Look into why you feel frustrated, and ask yourself: can you live free from all antagonism? Can we understand the causes of our inner conflict? Does psychological security actually exist? Why do we even feel the need for security, and what is security anyway? Can what is transitory – that being thought, something as abstract as psychological security – ever be permanent? Ask yourself why the foundation of our so-called civilised society is fundamentally unsound, always needing to be maintained through the rule of law, through obedience to authority – the same authority that leads us into wars. Together we create war because by not solving our psychological problems we have become dependent upon authority and institutions. How can we legislate against war when humans are so deeply and inwardly corrupt; always seeking to get ahead, always seeking power, wealth or domination over others so that we can feel that little bit more secure?
Can we understand the mind such that there is no conflict within? Can we bring about a radical transformation in ourselves – ourselves being the principle cause of society’s antagonism with other societies, and therefore of war. The circumstances of the world are created by us. They are a reflection of the deeply distorted relationships that exist between us. Our interpersonal relationships are largely based on mutual usage, on mutual dependency upon one another, on fear rather than love. It is no surprise, therefore, that there is a problem of possession and manipulation of the other. If our relationships are no more than an escape from ourselves, that feeling of inner loneliness or our inner feelings of insufficiency or our innate craving for pleasure, surely corruption cannot be avoided? That which is corrupt will always create contradiction, conflict; it will always supersede whatever peace-giving political structure we have managed to create on the outside. The inner always conquers the outer. This must be understood otherwise everything our politicians create will be without a solid foundation. The circumstances of society may be represented by our politicians, but they are only in place because we have not addressed our problem of fear. We do not understand the mechanics and structure of thought itself. We rely on leaders or specialists to solve our inward problems. We hand over authority to others in the hope of salvation or physical security. So if we rely on the outward transformation of individuals and human society without addressing our inner corruption, then no matter how well designed these plans may be, such transformation will only ever be superficial.
We are patriotic because we believe there is security in identification with the nation, with the flag, with the party. We can forget ourselves in our beliefs – in a certain cause, in our projected ideals. Ideals will not save us. Ideals act merely as an escape from seeing the truth of ‘what is’. They deny authentic action by making us preoccupied with adjusting ourselves according to our ideals – a reaction which brings about conflict – instead of seeing the truth of a problem. When we see the truth of a fact, we cannot help but act accordingly; in right action. A clear mind does not choose. When something is clear what does choice have to do with anything? When you see that the house is on fire you act accordingly. You don’t sit around a table discussing what type of water to use and what colour fire engine is needed. There is immediate action.
For there to be peace in this world, you yourself must be peaceful. That means not being antagonistic, not being ambitious. Never comparing, never measuring. Not adjusting yourself according to some idea that you have convinced yourself will make you free.