War makes the world go round

war

War is many things. War is cruel, devastating, evil, unjust, indiscriminate, war is a curse. War is politics and politics are war. War is all those things, but it is also a BIG FAT business. Money, not love, makes the world go round, and WAR means MONEY. Governments sell arms to other governments. Wars become opportunities to make big bucks and the longer they last the better. No need to explain what consequences this has on civilians, but who gives a damn about them anyway? Western governments and their humanitarian principles? Nope. All they care about is money. If arms control treaties really worked, and wars had less fuel to run on, well what would then be the justification for spending astronomic amounts of money on the military?

And what about secret intelligence agencies? Anyone imagines what kind of budget they have? To say it’s a big one would be a huge understatement. But what’s their excuse? Yep, you have guessed correctly: it’s good old war again. Their way of going about the business of war is a bit more subtle however. It’s the fear they are after. We are bombarded with fear and omnipresent insecurity on a daily basis. Movies, news, tv, the web etc., are all tools to communicate insecurity. To make us so fearful of invisible and omnipresent threat that we will accept to give up our civil rights and liberties all in the name of holy national security. Welcome to the age of wire-tapping, CCTV, and massive surveillance. Guess what this means? Yep, you’re right once more: big bucks for intelligence agencies and the military.

So you see, as complex as war is, it is rather simple at heart: it’s a question of money. It makes the arms selling business run and there are often strategic objectives involved that have nothing to do with terrorism, humanitarian aid or what ever it is that the western interventions pretend to stand for. Civil conflicts are a different matter, however, once again, they represent business opportunities for the rich states to make money of of other people’s suffering by selling arms to one side or the other and by making deals in exchange for military or political support.

I smile every time someone talks of Cold War in past tense, as if it were over, as if these were peace times. I can understand that it’s not easy to see the big picture when looking at the world from a western high horse, but there has to come a time to wake up and smell the reality. As long as war means business, as long as it’s a question of money, it will never end. Those who think that these are peace times are advised to take a trip to Gaza, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Federal territories of Pakistan, the Kashmir region, Ukraine, Russia, China, North Korea, etc., etc., etc. The saddest thing about all of this is that no-one cares about human suffering. Look at Israel, they are getting away with a war crime, right here, right now. Is anyone doing anything about that? I don’t think so.

But this is not what worries me most. After all, this bullying is nothing new, infuriating, yes, sadly not new. What is scary is the growing dissociation between war and and its consequences in the public opinion, especially among the young generations. The media and entertainment industry have given rise to a dangerous perception: that war is cool. It’s a way of life, it’s an objective in life, it’s honourable, it’s brave, it’s high-tech, it’s a game. People are bombarded with sanitized images of violence that becomes dissociated from its real equivalent. They see the world through the eyes of action movies and video games which tell them that against the “bad guys” anything goes, even torture, as long as it’s done by the “good guys”. Moral realm and human suffering are set aside, violent and extreme measures become the norm. Diplomacy is not an option. Mass civil casualties become collateral damage, torture becomes interrogation, breaking the law becomes emergency measures, war crimes become self-defence, suffering becomes invisible, death becomes meaningless, consequences become misunderstood, war is justified. War is fun.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  said George Santayana, in The Life of Reason, in 1905. I say:

Those who trivialise war deserve to repeat it, so they remember what it really means. US thought Iraq of 1991 would have no consequences?  Well, 9/11 proved them wrong. They thought in 2003 that Iraq would be easy? Well think again.

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You can’t say it unless someone else has said it before you

Writing a Dissertation is frustrating, as is writing any other piece of academic work. Those of you going through the joys of academic life will surely recognise the feeling at some point or another of your careers, especially when faced with Big Fat Papers like Dissertations and Thesis. The most frustrating part, unlike most of you might think is not actually coming up with an interesting enough idea or keeping that fragile flame of interest alive all through your project, but the reference mania on which the scientific foundations of academia rely. That is especially true in the case of social sciences, since let’s face it, there is nothing scientific about them apart from the general bibliographic craziness.

We lack the rigour of the pure sciences so we take refuge in an absurd quantity of references and never-consulted bibliographical sources as well as the ridiculous practice of cataloguing and compulsive classification. What is really an academic piece of work by these standards? It is mostly a catalogue of what other scholars have said before organised in a manner that kind of, approximately implies what we wanted to say when we first started the project, but not really, adorned with the occasional weird classifications, data tables and the like. You know, to make it all seem more serious. And if we are blessed with the gift of knowing our audience, then it is all oriented at impressing them, forget about what you wanted to say unless someone else already said it before you. Then it’s ok, go ahead, repeat compulsively. That is the basis of academic work. Forget originality. In love with your idea? I hate to break it to you, your love will either turn to ardent hate or flagrant indifference by the time you get to cataloguing, I mean, writing phase. Why? Well if you want to make your money’s worth and get that degree, PhD, publish that book or whatever, you can’t say what you want to say, that is, unless someone else has said it before you.

BUT, you should never stop trying to break through!

This is War

“This is a song for peace”

Please note that the lead singer Jared Leto is wearing a Palestinian scarf. You are all too familiar with that conflict, especially now, so I will not enter into the details of what that means. His brother, the other member of the band, is wearing a Tuareg scarf. The most common colour is blue, however it does exist in a variety of colours, in this case brown. The Tuareg are another minority with a fascinating history of suffering. I would look into it ,if it doesn’t ring a bell, if I were you it’s quite interesting. I might get back to it later. However, the objective of this brief comment is to highlight the role of symbols within the clip. I think it is important to understand how political symbols work, since narratives and meaning-frames is where the real battles take place. Words are used in a strategic manner, especially by the state. This music video is an example of that narrative, the narrative of Global War on Terror to be precise, being used against itself by incorporating symbols of resistance in a subtle but clear way. Now here’s some food for thought. Or shall I say music for thought…

Addicted to Information

Nowadays people are so concentrated looking at their screens, so occupied accumulating information as if it were gold, they hardly have the time or energy to actually analyse what they see. All the while taking comfort is a false sense of participation and knowledge. But information is not knowledge. They, we, have chosen to voluntarily blindfold ourselves taking comfort in a fake virtual world. We have embraced speed and quantity in detriment to authenticity and quality. In a world of smart phones, fast connections and big data, we think we know but we don’t have a clue.