The Protection Racket
By John Scales Avery
21 August, 2012
“Naturally, the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country that determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship... All you have to do is to tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
Herman Goering, interviewed in Spandau Prison
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H.L. Menken
Owners of night-clubs in modern cities are sometimes visited by gangsters who offer them “protection”, and demand a fee for this service. The owners usually pay up. They know what will happen if they don't.
One is reminded of the feudal system of the Middle Ages, in which industrious peasants paid for “protection” with a large fraction of their produce. Their gangster-like protectors, the knights and barons, did no useful work. All they did was to fight with each other.
How much is it exactly that we pay today for “protection”? The total world military budgets cost us 1.7 trillion dollars each year ¨C that is to say, 1,700,000,000,000 dollars, an amount of money almost too large to be imagined. What do we get for this? We do not get anything useful. We get war, a universal source of poverty, destruction of infrastructure, and human suffering.
The people of the world do not want war. Even Hermann Goering knew this. The military-industrial complexes throughout the world want war ¨C they live on it ¨C without it they would wither. Governments make war, contrary to the will of their peoples, because they are controlled by a great river of money from the world's military-industrial complexes. This huge torrent of money drives the war machine ¨C the devil's dynamo ¨C the protection racket - making slaves of our politicians.
Today the latest means of “alarming the populace” (in Menkin's words) is “terrorism”. We have to be “protected from terrorism”. This goal has the highest priority, although the total number of people killed by terrorist actions is vanishingly small when compared to the number of children who die of starvation each year, and even vanishingly small compared to the number of people killed in traffic accidents. Nevertheless, we are constantly reminded of terrorism by checks at airports, whose main purpose is undoubtedly to make us conscious of the danger of terrorism.
But must we really be driven like sheep by false threats? Can we not see through the protection racket and free ourselves from it?
John Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965. He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Fellowships, memberships in societies: Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. He was the Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004. http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/ordbog/aord/a220.htm
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