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Friday, Jul 16, 2004, 10:36 am

The Corporatization of the Militarization of Society

By Abraham Epton
In a recent Guardian article (excerpted from his newest book), John Kenneth Galbraith describes the increasingly intricate and overlapping layers of control in our society: corporate control over the military, corporate control over the government, military control over foreign policy. He argues that Americans have lost America to corporations: we now wage wars on their behalf, using their employees to fire their weapons at their enemies. Our politicians either come from, or are controlled by, the private sector. We don't even get to choose our own preferences; instead, the tastemakers at MTV (for the younger set), movie and tv studios and even the internet decide for us, and it's no coincidence that what they tell us to like usually costs money.

The rise of capital as the dominant interest in American decision-making has profound implications for a world dominated by those decisions. Putting corporate interests first means putting all other interests second, which makes inevitable the occasional wedding-party bombing, shooting of civilians or other atrocity/"collateral damage". "Wars are a major threat to civilised existence," writes Galbraith, "and a corporate commitment to weapons procurement nurtures this threat."

What are we to do in the face of this horror? Galbraith seems to argue that we can do nothing, or at least, that some things are inevitable. "The economic and social problems here described can, with thought and action, be addressed," he claims. But he goes on to say that this has happened before, and anyway, "thought and action" remains something of a vague prescription.

Perhaps it is true that we're screwed, in the end. And it is certainly true that the way to begin to fight back is to understand what we're fighting. But a little hope would be a nice thing to have, as would a few constructive suggestions.
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