I continue to be amazed at the dominance of war in America’s master narrative. “War is a force that gives us meaning,” notes Chris Hedges in his book by that title. Even nuclear war, apparently, as America pursues new nuclear bombers, submarines, and missiles at a cost approaching $2 trillion over the next 30 years.
The whole idea of nuclear “modernization” is insane; it’s like modernizing the methods of the Holocaust and broadening them on a planetary scale. Of course, Congress looks at nuclear weapons as job creators, as if we can’t spend money on better schools or health care or renewable energy.
War will always find a way in America, or so it seems. If we’re truly looking for New Year’s resolutions, how about saving the planet, and trillions of dollars, by resolving to work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons? Because “us” versus “them” will make no sense once those nuclear warheads start exploding.
Photo by Paul Nadar (1891), from a French postcard
I was reading the novelist Ursula K. Le Guin and came across the following commentary by her:
“A hero whose heroism consists of killing people is uninteresting to me, and I detest the hormonal war orgies of our visual media … War as a moral metaphor is limited, limiting, and dangerous. By reducing the choices of action to ‘a war against’ whatever-it-is, you divide the world into Me or Us (good) and Them or It (bad) and reduce the ethical complexity and moral richness of our life to Yes/No, On/Off. This is puerile, misleading, and degrading. In stories, it evades any solution but violence and offers the reader mere infantile reassurance. All too often the heroes of such fantasies behave exactly as the villains do, acting with mindless violence, but the hero is on the ‘right’ side and therefore…
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