The world is addicted to weapons, armaments, militarism and death, a reality which has been intertwined into every aspect of the global economy. In the past year alone, the world has spent some $1.6 trillion on the buying and selling of death machines that have no purpose other than death itself. The sooner and faster they can deliver death, the better and more expensive they are. Added to this mix is the overwhelming financial service infrastructure that facilitates the death economy, which includes the entertainment enterprise itself that captures the imagination of the living and makes it possible for them to pursue and imagine the death of others and themselves as well. The scope of the death economy must include prisons, gun violence, domestic violence and drugs, both the legal and those perceived to be illegal, that keep all numb to the mass production of death as a growth industry. The death economy produces the spiritual death of society.
The death economy is the type that commodifies fear, stokes resentment, raises racial tensions, fosters ignorance, manufactures conflicts, urges interventions, and marshals resources to sniff life itself. It is an economy that spends a million dollar to produce a “smart bomb” to be used once to kill human potential many generations over. Producing “smart bombs” is more important and has more “meaning” than nurturing smart and caring human beings! Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech on Aug. 31, 1967, on The Three Evils of Society, delivered at the National Conference on New Politics, is still prophetic: “But our moral lag must be redeemed; when scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men. When we foolishly maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum, we sign the warrant for our own day of doom. It is this moral lag in our thing-oriented society that blinds us to the human reality around us and encourages us in the greed and exploitation which creates the sector of poverty in the midst of wealth.”
Death expenditures prey on life
The death economy is the type of economy that cuts child care, health care, education, agriculture research, storytelling, libraries, schools, arts and social uplifting in favor of maximum and unlimited expenditures for “smart bombs” and killing machines. What would be the impact if the same $1.6 trillion would be marshaled to find cures for diseases, address poverty, provide shelter for all of our human brothers and sisters across the globe, eradicate illiteracy, and solve the impending environmental crisis?!
The death economy has a bottomless pit of resources that are readily marshaled to produce faster, bigger, and supposedly “smarter” death machines that are intended to bring about the end of many lives at a time.
Asking for resources to save human lives is a difficult and arduous task and walls of ignorance are offered to rationalize the lack of funding. Death machines are funded with no questions asked and wrapped in the flag of patriotism and nationalism. Death machines are paraded on the national stage and celebrated as if they are objects of religious veneration giving spiritual meaning to an empty edifice that has become accustomed to the nauseating smell of death and destruction. The death economy is one that produces a national cult of death that sends its own to graveyards near and far for no other purpose than to pad profit margins for a Dracula type private country club of morally bankrupt CEOs and their political delivery boys at the helm of governments.
Debt and death economy go hand in hand. Governments borrow massively to fund the production of death machines and keep the addiction of the death economy moving no matter the consequences. What is the worst possible outcome for the death economy? Normally, death is the worst outcome for anyone but from a death economy’s perspective, it actually translates into an opportunity for market growth by means of predictable rates of organized and mechanized killing. The U.S.’ death economy is humming and has not missed a beat. Whether in peace or war times, the spending and production never ceases and with it the long lines of skulls and bones that are left behind.
The zeal of the ‘death cult’
Defending the nation from domestic and foreign enemies calls for developing the needed weapons and armaments, which if not undertaken correctly would result in loss of status and position in the world. Death machines are needed to protect the nation and its entire people from a possible attack by a group or a state using better or more tested death machines. We need them to protect ourselves but to do that, we must surrender to the death economy itself, which kills all of us many times over!
The arm race that is put forth to the human family is calling for an infinite cycle of producing bigger and better death machines to protect “us” from their bigger and better death machines, which ends up causing all of our death by means of poverty, environmental destruction, mental disease, and societal fragmentation. An economy vested in destruction and testing our human capacity to end life itself is what is offered as the only present and future horizon.
The death economy is rationalized through the deployment of failed many times over political theories, scientific studies based on survival of the fittest, religious claims rooted in distorted and speculative theologies, and a host of other circularly constructed reasons. At the core, the death economy points to its capacity to end life at the industrial scale as the needed proof of its veracity and the need to continue to build and expand its scope. Death itself is the only measure for the death economy!
Alarmingly, the death economy depends on a sophisticated cadre of warmongers that peddle their views on the airwaves, TV screens, and the major print media. Media coverage of wars and the buildup for them is an art form that gets deployed to rally the nation into accepting the use of death machines and mobilize the death economy against a defined enemy. Even when evidence is lacking, the warmongers never miss an opportunity to produce the needed threats, air manufactured evidence and concocted attacks on “our” troops that must be responded to with death machines, never divulging that the same company that owns the media outlet is likewise heavily invested in the death economy itself. Death and destruction sell and make a very significant return on investment.
Moreover, the relationship between the death economy and movie production studios is well-established, which works to formulate the latent death epistemic in the minds of the population. Just like how a scientific experiment in a lab produces the results, the latent death economy that plays out as entertainment on the movie screens is easily transformed into popular support to fund, produce and use death machine on human beings.
Revolution through education
The need to break away from this death economy and cult is a must and the sooner the better it is for everyone in the world. What is the starting point for this much-needed endeavor? Education is at the root of bringing an end to this calamity but one must be sure that it is not the type that packages the death economy into books, schools, and universities and reproduces the same system, one that does not confuse degrees conferred, income levels, and upward mobility as the basis of shifting the death economy paradigm.
Education itself must be extricated out of the death economy, power relations, status achieving, and profits making schemes. We need a type of education that centers “real” human needs, focus on the “other” before the self and considering the “other” as being the self. An education that at no time would favor death machines and death economy over human needs, which would require a total reorientation of what society teaches from cradle to the grave. An education that awards medals on the basis of how human lives are saved, housed and cured and wars prevented; rather than on the basis of how many “confirmed kills” or accurate dropping of “the mother of all bombs” on civilian populations.
The world we deserve and aspire for must first be born in the mind and imagined before it can be actualized, which means a peaceful, just, and human dignity-centered economy is only possible through education and a total transformation of structures of meaning, both secular and religious.
A “radical revolution of values” was what Martin Luther King Jr. called for in 1967 and it is the same message that must be delivered in this day and age: “So we are here because we believe, we hope, we pray that something new might emerge in the political life of this nation which will produce a new man, new structures and new institutions and a new life for mankind. I am convinced that this new life will not emerge until our nation undergoes a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people the giant triplets of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A civilization can flounder as readily in the face of moral bankruptcy as it can through financial bankruptcy. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s road side, but that will only be an initial act.”