Dread, White, and Blue

I recently saw Michael Moore’s new movie, “Bowling for Columbine.” Moore asks, why is America home to so much more domestic violence (11,000 homicides/year) than any other industrialized country? Answers vary. Maybe it’s America’s large amount of gunowners. But although America only has six times more households with handguns than Canada (for instance), we have roughly 1,100 times the number of handgun murders annually. NRA President Charlton Heston said it was because America “had so many different ethnicities.” But even Moses wouldn’t be so ancient as to believe this racism. OK, well maybe it’s because America has a more violent history than any other country. While this is quite compelling-US historical murders committed directly or through proxy include: several million dead African slaves; one million massacred in the Philippines (1900-03); one million in Vietnam (1961-73); one million in Cambodia (1969-73); 750,000 in Angola (1976-present); 1.5 million in Iraq (1991-present)–this seems not to be the answer, either. The conclusive answer lies in contemporary geopolitical and economic terms. The United States is home to the greatest income inequality of any industrialized country. The top two percent of the population owns 40% of the nation’s wealth. Profits for the 82 largest American corporations increased 362.4% over the past 20 years, while wages decreased by an average of five percent for the vast majority of Americans over the same period. While profits for US CEOs grew on average 50% per year over the ’90s, income levels dropped over this same period for half of the world’s countries, leaving three billion people now living on less than two dollars/day. Perhaps most disgusting are UN estimates that 36 million people die worldwide each year from hunger, though it would require only 1/10 of the US military budget to feed these people! Such inequalities and deprivations inevitably breed resentment and anger internationally. No wonder the US needs a bigger military than the next 20 countries combined! The words of George Kennan, ex-Cold War strategist for the US government, shed light on the present: “We have 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period is to maintain this position of disparity. We should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratization.” America is home to so much violence because it is the King of a global mountain of injustice. Just as the proliferation of prisons in America will not stop the orgy of homicide, neither will ‘regime change’ in Iraq stop international violence. The only requirement for global peace is redistribution of the world’s wealth, raising the living standards of the majority of people internationally and in America. Only this can rip up war and violence. To further discuss these ideas and to get involved in the socialist movement, come to the next public meeting of the ISO: “War and Recession,” Wednesday, 1/22, 7pm, in Lafayette 100.