Tuesday, January 3, 2017

everything we are and have is at stake

"This war must be waged - it is being waged - with the greatest and most persistent intensity.  Everything we are and have is at stake.  Everything we are and have will be given."  ~ FDR State of the Union, January 3, 1945, the last year of the war and just a few weeks before he died.

As he spoke, a furious battle raged in the Ardennes.  It took 19,000 Americans lives, wounded 62,500, and left 23,500 captured or missing.  We lost hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles, and 647 aircraft.  The battle lasted forty days and nights.  It was the last major offensive by the Axis powers on the western front.  

By war's end, sixty million had died.  World War II cost 20 million military and 40 million civilian lives. 

Of the war deaths, 85% were among the Allies.  The Brits and Americans lost 400,000 each.  Half a million in the Philippines were killed.  In France, 600,000 died.  In French Indochina (Vietnam), more than a million starved. Eighteen million died in China.  In the Soviet Union, one quarter of the population was killed or injured; about 24 million civilians and soldiers died.  

There were atrocities, the product of strange ideological wickedness.  
In Europe, at least ten million ethnic Jews, Poles, Slavs, Roma, and other minorities were systematically murdered.   It was genocide.

In the Pacific, eight million civilians were murdered by Japanese occupation forces. Rape and murder in the Nanking Massacre took hundreds of thousands of lives; it was a small part of the Sankō Sakusen (kill all, burn all, loot all) practice that took the lives of millions more.
It was a war we had to fight.  
The alternative was an unthinkably inhuman world.  
The Cost: 60 million lives
Your family and every person you've ever met, every person you went to school with, every person you've ever seen, ten thousand times over, their lives ended brutally and their towns burned to the ground.  That's what it was like.

The few can lead the many down a terrible path.  For complex reasons, they lie and distort moral values, and they justify deadly practices in the name of some goal or god; racial dominance and lebensraum, ethnic or religious superiority, economic advantage, or just plain selfishness ... hubris, greed, avarice, vainglory, from among the deadly sins.
The world wars of the 20th century were neither the beginning nor the end.  Conquest and empire have been and are still the norm for the wickedest among us, and Hitler was not the last.

The few still lead the many. Today, it is economic warfare, the extraction of wealth from regions and populations by economic rulers.  It's a precarious balance between starving the ox that grinds the grain and continued viability.  Today's economic warfare is not the kind waged a century ago between labor and its industrial employers.  Finance has moved to capture the economy of the world.
Economist Michael Hudson explains:
Today’s economic warfare is not the kind waged a century ago ...
Finance has moved to capture the economy at large, industry and mining, public infrastructure (via privatization) and now even the educational system. (At over $1 trillion, U.S. student loan debt came to exceed credit-card debt in 2012.)
The weapon in this financial warfare is no larger military force. The tactic is to load economies (governments, companies and families) with debt, siphon off their income as debt service and then foreclose when debtors lack the means to pay.
Indebting government gives creditors a lever to pry away land, public infrastructure and other property in the public domain. Indebting companies enables creditors to seize employee pension savings. And indebting labor means that it no longer is necessary to hire strikebreakers to attack union organizers and strikers.
The 2007-9 Great Recession was a poker hand overplayed by Wall Street, and it crashed the world economy with deadly consequences.  The government bailout paid billions in bonuses to the killers and continued the government sanctioned war.  Not a single perpetrator was prosecuted, but thousands of protesters were jailed.
The recession cost every American $50,000 to $100,000.[a][b]   In the developing world, food prices bounced, and hundreds of thousands died from starvation.  Around 900,000 died in sub-saharan Africa in the first year alone.  

Welcome to the 21st century.
The few lead ...  and the marketplace sets the pace.  Consumerist norms and materialism have reshaped the world.[a]  Pornography is a multi-billion dollar international industry.[b]   Narcissism[c] has become the character trait visible in modern culture and sanctioned by national leadership.  Economic advantage is now the national goal.  Extractive economics within and between nations brutally forces a widening gap between the elite and everyone else, the lower 90% on the economic ladder.  This is the world in which we and our children live, and our goals may not fit well in it. 
It is a war that has to be fought.  Everything we are is at stake, as are our children.  
Exit wounds.  Wars always have a price and recovery consumes lifetimes.
Sixty million.  The death toll from WWII was followed by decades of displacement and rebuilding; the lost years.
Sixty million+.  The death toll among natives (Africa, south Asia, and the Americas), victims of the colonial exploitation.  Most sub-saharan countries continue in the mire of economic deprivation today, as do most indigenous peoples. The lost centuries; most still have no voice.
Sixty million+.  That's the infant mortality (under 5 years old) total from preventable causes for the last decade in the developing world.  They were sidelined by the wealthy. Families lost their precious children; they had no voice.
Sixty million+.  U.S. census data shows that half our population now qualifies as poor or low income,[1] with one in five Millennials living in poverty.[2]  The trap of multi-generational poverty and the GAP[3] between rich and poor; they no longer have a voice in their future.
Academic contributors to The Routledge Handbook of Poverty in the United States describe new forms of poverty in the U.S., a result of structural adjustment policies and globalization, which have rendered economically marginalized communities as destitute "surplus populations".[3a]
Child poverty has reached record levels in the U.S., with 16.7 million children living in food insecure households, about 35% more than 2007.[4]  A 2013 UNICEF report ranked the U.S. as having the second highest relative child poverty rates in the developed world.[5] According to a 2016 study by the Urban Institute, teenagers in low income communities are often forced to join gangs, take school lunches home, sell drugs, or exchange sexual favors because they cannot afford food.[6]

Things have changed.  Things are not like they were.
You were born into a world at war.  Everything you do matters.
  ~ C.S. Lewis

Are we to live our quiet, sheltered lives, insulated by what we have?   Or should we be training and equipping ... and fighting for what's right and just and good?

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