The idea of competition to create wealth didn't begin with capitalism. It goes all the way back to stone age tribes that fought for the best hunting grounds and the choicest women. Civilization just made it more sophisticated with bronze and iron weapons; but the general idea was still the same – to fight for material gain.
At first, the rulers led the armies made up of citizens. That's why the pharaohs of Egypt were expected to be outstanding warriors. That loosened under the Roman emperors who found it more relaxing to stay at home, and who found it cheaper to hire barbarians to do the fighting. And this brought Rome wealth in the form of minerals, slaves, and the 'taxes' called tribute.
But the basic principles of modern capitalism were there – the use of the power of government to acquire greater wealth for those who had power and influence in government.
And, like later forms of capitalism, there were no limits to the demands of greed.
The middle ages saw no change. Wars were led by kings who fought them to take more land and more wealth, more cheap labour – thus the Vikings, the Norman invasion of England, the crusades. In purpose, these were traditional wars led by Kings and knights looking for land and estates for themselves. But nobody said that.
No, these were wars for God. This nonsense was added to drag along the ragged peasantry who would have to fight with crude, agricultural tools. (Well, they weren't going to get any lands or estates out of this – and they had to be given some reason to go.)
This was also linked to the idea of fighting for the king and for national patriotism. Thus the cry “For Richard and England”. (Though I have no idea what they thought most of England was going to get out of all this.)
By the 1500s, at least, the modern, businessman capitalist was emerging – and was proving valuable to the king. So it was that Jacques Cartier landed at Gaspe crying pour “le roi et la France”, and he stuck up a cross for Jesus, much as Columbus had done at several points in South America
before stealing the gold and murdering the people. The English hit the Americas in much the same way, with cries and God and King before killing large numbers of native people in the Americas, (and all of them in Newfoundland), and stealing their land.
This slogan-shouting served to build public support and military enthusiasm for what was really a massive mob war, most of whose benefits would go to the wealthy and their good friends in government.
By Victoria's reign, British soldiers were fighting and dying all over the world for 1 shilling per day. (Of course, they rarely got all of that. There were 'stoppages' in pay to replace uniforms that had worn out, for medical care, to pay for their muskets… Commonly, the soldiers had to buy their own muskets, usually from a company from whom the Colonel got a cut. A merciful government finally ruled that all soldiers must receive at least one penny a day.
Most were not permitted to marry. The few who were had to live with their families in the barracks, with just a hanging blanket for privacy. ( The barracks were already as crowded as prisons.) The life was unhealthy , enervating and, of course, dangerous. Few would live to see their penny a day retirement package.
Incidentally, this probably explains who many Acadians have names that are English or are corruptions of English names. British soldiers here refused to expel the Acadians, and many fled with the Acadians to marry Acadian wives.
But, otherwise, it was all for God and queen, and country. Religiosity, monarchy worship, and patriotism.
Such were the reasons men gave their lives to kill foreigners to make the rich richer. It was a model copied by France, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Italy...and the United States.
And the churches ate it up. It was common in World War Two – and it still is – for clergy to bless the bombs that are to be dropped and the guns that are to kill. All in the service of The Lord. (I have a photo of a German priest blessing a tank in 1939. Yes, the Germans were fighting for God, Fuehrer and Country, too.)
Capitalism had made a wonderful discovery. God, leader and country – plus their influence in government – would give them the use of armies – at no cost to them – to fight the wars that would make them richer.
That was and is the nature and purpose of the US and British armies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. This is why Canadian pilots bombed Libya and now Iraq and Syria. This is why special ops carry out murders in South America and Africa, and why drones bomb all over the world.
It has nothing to do with queen and country. And it certainly has nothing to do with God. Best of all, it's cheap for the wealthy because tax payers pick up the tab – and the very wealthy know all the ways to avoid paying their own taxes.
Oh, did Hitler have to be stopped? Yes, he did. He had to be stopped years before 1939. It would have been relatively easy to stop him then. So why didn't they? And why didn't the U.S. stop him before 1942?
Well, that was because the very rich didn't want to stop Hitler earlier. They approved of his policies, thought them good for big business, and also saw him as blocking the spread of communism.
So why didn't the U.S. enter the war in 1939? Because Hitler was a threat to Britain and France – and US business didn't give a damn about Britain and France. In fact, they're defeat would be good because then the US could snatch up the British and French Empires for American big business. They're still trying to catch up to that chance to this day.
As a side note, people who acquire wealth and power almost invariably take it as a right because they are superior people.
For example, in the British armies of the Victorian age, the officer class was made up of the sons of the rich. Any rise in rank happened with connections and with purchase of the rank. And that worked all the way up to general. Typically, these were the sons of the wealthy who were second sons or even lower, and thus had very little inheritance (like Churchill). Or they were hopeless twits. That's why a fool like Lord Cardigan of the light brigade ordered his men on horseback to charge a line of Russia artillery. He was one of the few to get to the artillery alive. Then he turned, feeling his job was done, to trot back over the bodies of his dead and wounded (paying no attention to them) to have a chef-prepared supper on his yacht.
They were not only twits. They were unspeakably arrogant. They looked down on artillery officers because they were the products of training for the artillery. After all, a real gentleman was fit for command because of birth, not training.
CBC News has an interesting item on the decline of professionalism in our newspapers. I think his general idea is right – but he's much too kind to the newspapers in what he says. They have been essentially propaganda sheets from the origins of the cheap newspaper about 1890. But they are getting worse – and it's largely due to corporate ownership.
I have known many people in journalism and in the teaching of journalism. All of them are pretty despondent at what has happened. Of course, it's different in New Brunswick. Our newspapers are run by a man of the better sort. He has a journalism degree, was a reporter, and was so brilliant he rapidly rose to be VP of the whole chain – all on pure talent and the wisdom to be born with the right name.
I guess we're never going to get much news about the trans-pacific trade deal in the Irving press. It needs all the space it can get for pictures of lost dogs, babies, smiling goofs with big cheques, and ranting columns.
So here's a brief outline of for and against the proposal from Al Jazeera (be patient as it changes images.) If you look at their map, you'll see another reason for the deal. It isolates China, thus setting the stage for a new, cold war, this one based on economic destruction.
Then we have Hillary Clinton who has become a wealthy woman thanks to incredibly high-paying speeches she gives to Goldman-Sachs and other big-time thieves.
I have a post sent to me by a reader. It suggests three site that are comments at the foot of my blog for Feb. 2. They look really interesting. But…….
(This is so embarrassing )
1. I can't seem to open them. I'm computer illiterate.
2. Apparently, I have two posts dated Feb. 2. It's the first one.
3. I shall now go to my room and cry.