Imperialism and the Logic of War Making, Joseph T. Salerno

Praxeology and War
The Meaning of Imperialist War
War Making and Class Conflict
Democracy and Imperialist War Making
Severing The Sinews of Imperialist War


""The economist Joseph Schumpeter was one of the few non-Marxists to grasp that the primary stimulus for imperialist war is the inescapable clash of interests between rulers and ruled. Taking an early mega-state, Imperial Rome, as his example, Schumpeter wrote:

"Here is the classic example … of that policy which pretends to aspire to peace but unerringly generates war, the policy of continual preparation for war, the policy of meddlesome interventionism. There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest — why, then it was national honor that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil minded neighbors, always fighting for a breathing space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome's duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs. They were enemies who only waited to fall upon the Roman people. [No] attempt [can] be made to comprehend these wars of conquest from the point of view of concrete objectives…. Thus there is but one way to an understanding: scrutiny of domestic class interests, the question of who stood to gain…. Owing to its peculiar position as the democratic puppet of ambitious politicians and as the mouthpiece of a popular will inspired by the rulers [the Roman proletariat] did indeed get the benefit of the [war] booty. So long as there was good reason to maintain the fiction that the population of Rome constituted the Roman people and could decide the destinies of the empire, much did depend on its good temper…. But again, the very existence, in such large numbers, of this proletariat, as well as its political importance, was the consequence of a social process that also explains the policy of conquest. For this was the causal connection: The occupation of public land and the robbery of peasant land formed the basis of a system of large estates, operating extensively and with slave labor. At the same time the displaced peasants streamed into the city and the soldiers remained landless — hence the war policy.

The latifundian landowners were, of course, deeply interested in waging war…. . The alternative to war was agrarian reform. The landed aristocracy could counter the perpetual threat of revolution only with the glory of victorious leadership. [I]t was an aristocracy of landlords, large-scale agricultural entrepreneurs, born of struggle against their own people. It rested solely on control of the state machine. Its only safeguard lay in national glory…. An unstable social structure of this kind merely creates a general disposition to watch for pretexts for war — often held to be adequate with entire good faith — and to turn to questions of foreign policy whenever the discussion of social problems grew too troublesome for comfort. The ruling class was always inclined to declare that the country was in danger, when it really was only class interests that were threatened.""
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