The military in the United States portrays itself as endowed with the highest virtues—honor, duty, self-sacrifice, courage and patriotism. Politicians, entertainers, sports stars, the media, clerics and academics slavishly bow before the military machine, ignoring its colossal pillaging of state resources, the egregious war crimes it has normalized across the globe, its abject service not to democracy or freedom but corporate profit, and the blind, mind-numbing obedience it inculcates among its members.
Another excellent article by Hedges.
For the decade that I lived in the midwest, I wondered why no one ever spoke about certain aspects of the culture. To me, the entire ethos was compromised by mind control.
Mr. Hedges brings out some of the basic aspects of this virus that infects the region. What is curious to me is how this young man became an atheist living in the mid west. The religious indoctrination, so paramount for the youth to graduate into the military industrial mindset, is rampant in the area. I would be very interested in knowing whether he became an atheist before or after joining the military.
If you have been raised with an open mind and you go to the midwest, you will find yourself coming up against schizoid reasoning based on religious, political and media induced brainwashing constantly. The hypermasculinity that Mr. Hedges talks about is an everyday occurrence in the spread from College town Pennsylvania to Fort Collins Colorado. The place of women, who are also taught the same mind set, is defacto a step lower than that of men. How Katherine Sebilius got to her position in Kansas is curious to me. Is she from Lawrence? The Mid-Western female is proud to be a prisoner in her own home.
The ROTC lures young men into their ranks with big bucks. They are guaranteed about 170k if they stay in the ranks for (seven?) less than ten years, and they are promised college funding. Why would a 20 year old not take that up? Many of the students that I taught in the technical colleges were there under this program.
However there is no equivalent for the young men for civil service.
Rah-Rah, Kill, Kill?
Feed the poor?
I agree with you completely. I have former friends that would tell me I have a ‘bent’ because of my views. They being conservatives I guess do not.
If ignoring what is right in front of you or painting it over makes you feel, better….being god-fearing or not….when the time comes….there is going to be a paralyzing shock befall a vast majority of this nation’s peoples. I have learned that speaking up and trying to give information (not opinion) can have dangerous consciences for me.
admiration and hugs to you, young man, a shining example of a true hero.
After reading Chris Hedges portrayal of Robert Weilbacher’s “Awakening” (apologies to the deceased novelist Kate Chopin for borrowing the title of her most memorable work) all I can say is “well duhhh!”
“A lone soldier or Marine who rises up inside the system to denounce the
hypermasculinity that glorifies violence and war, who exposes the false
morality of the military, who refuses to kill in the service of imperial
power, unmasks the military for what it is. And he or she, as Chelsea
Manning has learned, swiftly pays a very, very heavy price.”
So where has Robert been these past 14 years of endless war, suicides by service members outnumbering combat casualties, and the documented exposure of lying governments using any lame excuse to “go to war”? Novels from All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (WWI), to Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” and Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 (WWII) have also shown in graphic fashion the dysfunction of war in general and the military in particular. Its insanity was immortalized by General Sherman’s famous observation “war is hell”. (Civil War)
With what sort of nonsense did Robert waste his time when he was supposed to be obtaining an education?
One other note: Bradley/Chelsea had no particular problem with “killing in the service of imperial power” as Chris Hedges phrases it. Bradley/Chelsea’s “Awakening” came when he/she realized that the only rule of war is that the rules depend on the situation and that the highest virtue is not getting caught. This situation ethics on steroids was what finally convinced Manning that he/she was part of a true cuckoo’s nest of organized insanity from which he/she desired to extract him/herself. Now he/she must realize that (just like in the movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, based on Ken Kesey’s novel of the same name, nobody leaves nurse Ratchet’s Cuckoo’s Nest alive.
Hedges wants to eliminate (hyper masculine) violence as in war. In essence he wants to eliminate violent competition. But violent competition in natural selection is the genetic predisposition of most living organisms (with exceptions like Bonobos). And violent competition exists in healthy ways. Sports, games and other relatively harmless forms of competition can select the fittest without bloody warfare and suffering.
War stopped separating the strong from the weak when mano a mano fighting gave way to weapons of mass destruction. These kill indiscriminately and are almost always in the hands of the intellectually and physically deficient who along pass along their faulty genes( like the Bush family).
Another normal purpose of violence is to control overpopulation of any life form by killing off the weakest in a competition for mates and resources. Family planning can control overpopulation non-violently, but I’m not sure if or how it favors natural selection.
And thus everyone just confirms, Note how Master of Divinity titles his piece with a commandment.
If someone says screw the consequences while still in the region, maybe we can elect Sanders.
Yes, there’s no doubt that it is extremely annoying when others are so slow off the mark with things we’ve (whoever qualifies) long ago figured out. It still gets me now and then but I do believe that such a condemnatory attitude isn’t a very healthy or effective way to relate to a world, the majority of which has yet to catch up. And after all, I mean what else can they do? It’s either catch up/on or not and the latter is far too easy for most.
I have no reason to believe you might be interested but I think it would be best to swallow that bile and make nice to those who are starting to realize that the blinding light is something other than sunshine. It’s not fun but for the most part I am learning how to do it.
Thou shalt not kill.
- One could take that a step further:
- "Do not unto others as you would not have done unto you."
- Hmmmm, what just passed through my mind is the song from South Pacific, “You have to be taught to hate.”
- The conditioning of young people, especially young men, is very intense. I think it takes either a shock, or a lot of study or experience to break that conditioning. I see that process in the article.
- I wish him the best of luck, and if he succeeds, I hope he takes those insights and pays them forward to help others in the same spot, or help them avoid that spot.
I too watched those same movies. I too was raised in that same culture which deemed violence as a noble virtue and the killing of others as a means of creating a better society.
Yet I never joined the military or had the desire to kill another.
Now the issue is the WHY? What is it in a person that makes them subject to such conditioning as others avoid it?
I do not think we can condemn them all unless we know those whys otherwise we are being no different than the person that says “I became a multi-millionaire therefore you can too”.
I would suggest just as one example that people who grow up in poverty can be subject to being exposed to more violence on a daily basis than those not and especially in a society with greater wealth inequality. This is by means not an only factor but rather one of many.
Here in Vancouver there was an article some years ago on a person deemed an habitual criminal. By the time he was 18 he had been arrested multiple times. After he turned 18 he did not let up on his crimes which included everything from break and enters to sexual assault.
He was of the First Nations people and indeed a menace to society. When one reads of his childhood however ones perceptions change. He was at one time just a little boy. He was a little boy who would be burned with cigarettes by his stepfather whenever he misbehaved. He was a little boy who on his mother suggesting he go into the garage to " give his stepfather a hand" had his stepfather run his hand through a meatgrinder crushing every bone.
Yes it very likely that as a man he a menace to society and can not be rehabilated but when people such as the soldier above sees the errors of his own ways and wants to change why condemn him?
Excellent article. This soldier’s evolution seems directly correlated with his readings and education. Which highlights the political role that education systems play in keeping people ignorant. That is a nice subject for a next article - highlighting the contradiction between the stated mission of educational institutions and their actual practices.
“A medic in the Army weaponizes soldiers so they can go back out and kill,” he said. “When we are trained as medics we are told that our task is to preserve fighting strength. Being a medic in the Army is not about helping the people who need it most. Treatment is first directed towards casualties that have the best chance to survive. Army medics exist to perpetuate warfare.”
A parallel process is done through psychologists. In a manner not unlike that which had some from this profession endorse, monitor, and supervise the torture of prisoners of war; psychologists are used to socialize these trained assassins so that they can “fit in” when they get home. This sort of “therapy” normalizes violence in a HUGE way.
It’s GREAT to see Mr. Hedges (and those persons he interviews) challenge the mythology that allows Mars, god of war, to be held in homage and through this inversion of the true teachings of Creator, in turn hold millions of minds, hearts, and bodies hostage.
The results bleed out… all over.
"Everything about the military culture, from its celebration of violence and hypermasculinity to its cult of blind obedience, began to disturb him. "
The above quote is the essence of “Mars rules” and why it’s a travesty that females enter into the ranks of The Beast, at all.
Hilarious. You must have meant dangerous consequences. In theory, one would have to have a functioning conscience to speak up at all. And two numb-skulls (probably the same ones forever pounding on American sheeple) gave this comment a “like.”
For all your paeans to Christian righteousness, you must have forgotten the parable of The Prodigal Son.
The individual who awakens and changes their behavior represents a valuable example. And since so many remain stuck in delusion, those who wish to see an end to the madness of war would cheer on those waking from the dense delusions of military inculcation as generated inside this Homeland 24/7.
That you would offer a punishing comment aimed at denigrating Hedges, Chelsea Manning, and this young and newly enlightened soldier speaks to your rigid intolerance… not these persons!
Ridiculous. Your salute to hyper-masculine shows of violence supports my contention that I.T. corps like Booz Allen employ soldiers (or persons in uniform) to catapult the pro-war propaganda in opinion-shaping forums.
I have shared this situation MANY times before. Suffice it to say that when the dominant male baboons helped themselves first to food (as was their practice) and that food turned out to be poison, researchers were startled to see the less dominant males take on new roles that were more in balance with the females.
Balanced societies, which is to say those that don’t exaggerate the purported virtue of male aggression, do better. It was not any form of natural selection that wiped out these more evolved, peaceful societies… weapons and in particular, gunpowder which was the singular advantage behind the conquest of the Americas and subjugation of their Indigenous peoples is no show of evolution.
What it does represent is the danger behind unleashing this particular human (largely male) expression so that IT takes control of societies’ development.
The price of empire has always been war. If volunteer and private armies should not be enough then the draft would be brought back weighted to favor drafting mostly the poor for combat. Capitalism cannot be reformed as all reforms are temporary. Those who know that will stop thinking of themselves as citizens but rather as subjects in a military empire. They will resist serving the empire militarilly and will put their own self interest before everything, just as their masters do.
There really though is nothing new. Most people will always conform and group think. They will be exploited and killed in many different ways. Numbing, normalizing and even praising violence keeps them ignorant of the violence practiced on them by their bosses and the capitalist corporate state.
Knowing the truth can thus protect an individual and could bring down the parasitical ruling elite which is why they make sure that most people never get anything but half truths and lies.
Socialism is the only answer otherwise it’s more of the same with human extinction at the end of it becoming more of a certainty every day.
I had the sense that you were at least 40 years old. If so, it’s relevant. What I’m getting at is different generations come of age “baptized” by different shared historical events.
The kids that “came of age” after 911 were subject to such pervasive infusions of jingoism, militant patriotism, and the religious inversion that asserted that a Holy War called them to fight against Muslim terrorists… that MANY were roped in.
I came of age in the late l960s and l970s when the Peace movement, “free love,” using drugs to expand the mind, and identifying with Nature via the Environmental movement were all driving forces.
Just as the clock demarcates hours that favor certain types of activity–most go to school or work in the morning, and steep at night, for instance; time itself is encoded with character. Certain decades lean towards strict, conservative values and others break loose of them in shows of liberating culture and creative expressions.
I’m afraid you have a skewed idea of how natural selection works. Its not your fault. Darwin’s biggest fan, Thomas Huxley was the one who coined the term “survival of the fittest” and has muddied the waters ever since. Darwin was quite unhappy with that characterization. Natural selection is a process which takes (except for bacteria and viruses) thousands to millions of years to occur and results in the production of new species. Two populations of the same species may become separated and their respective environments favor a mutation in one that the other does not. Eventually, after accumulating enough mutations (i.e. thousands of years), these two populations can no longer make viable offspring together as their DNA no longer matches up and thus they become two separate species with a common ancestor. What you describe is “social Darwinism” which is totally mistaken about how n.s. works and leads to crap like eugenics, ethnic cleansing, communism, capitalism, racism and Wall St. There is no change in the genetic profile of humans in what you are describing. We remain the same species, and can certainly make babies together no matter how many of our fellows are slaughtered in conflict. Neandertals and modern humans had been separate populations for so long, most scientists suspect their genes were no longer, or just barely compatable. Because of this, there is only about 4% max of our genome which comes from Neandertals…not because we didn’t have sex together a lot, but because most of the offspring were either sterile or deformed, leaving few survivors of these unions.