Morality vs. Material Interests – Myths of Our Time By Paul Craig Roberts

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Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
November 13, 2009

It is conventional wisdom that it was the draft that ended the Vietnam war. According to this explanation, cowardly college students subject to the draft and their unpatriotic families, forced an end to the war. This is Karl Marx’s explanation. Material interests, not empty morality, are said to have brought the war to an end.

That fact that in those days the US still had an independent media of sorts that sometimes framed the war in moral terms is ignored. Are we sure, for example, that the film of the naked little girl running in terror down the road burning with napalm was ineffectual in arousing moral opposition to the war? Are we certain that it wasn’t an aroused moral conscience that brought about the end of the war but was college students’ fears for their lives and limbs?

If we ascribe ending the war to material interests, it makes ending the war look as unworthy as the war itself.

Yet, virtually every conservative columnist, commentator, newsperson and politician, as well as today’s antiwar protesters and apparently the Pentagon, believes that a military draft would reduce Americans’ toleration for wars because of body bags coming home to middle and upper class parents. Apparently, the lower class doesn’t mind its kids coming back in body bags.

Those in thrall to this explanation, which derives from Marx’s materialist explanation of history, do not notice that Vietnam was our longest war. It apparently took almost forever for the material interest of students and their parents to realize itself and stop the war.

Why are we afraid to say that the war stopped because American troops and the American population got tired, offended even, from killing women, children and noncombatants? Vietnam had not attacked the US. The US had interjected itself into a civil war in a far off place, as it has done in Afghanistan.

By invading Iraq the US started a civil war between Sunni and Shi’ite. In Pakistan the US has started a civil war between the religious tribal population and the secular US puppet state. In Palestine the US started a civil war between Fatah and Hamas.

One continuously reads from those Americans opposed to America’s wars of aggression that the wars are possible because they don’t affect Americans, just those few who sign up for the voluntary military. Thus, there are insufficient material interests at stake to stop the war. This is a common explanation for the weakness of the antiwar movement.

One could argue instead that it is the triumph of Karl Marx’s materialist thinking that has made moral protests impotent. What is morality? You can’t weigh it, define it, measure it. It can be dismissed as the whining of material interests. In contrast, material interests, such as lives, limbs, and bank accounts are real.

For whatever the reason, morality has shown itself to be an impotent force in 21st century America. Americans show no remorse at over one million dead Iraqis and four million displaced Iraqis due entirely to an American invasion based on lies and deception. The lies and deception are now well proven. Yet, there has been no apology for the horrors that Americans inflicted on Iraq.

Afghanistan is another example. Intentional lies conflated the Taliban with al Qaeda and “terrorists.” The diverse peoples in Afghanistan who were first ravaged by Soviet bombs are now ravaged by American bombs. Weddings, funerals, children’s soccer games, people waiting for fuel or food, people asleep in their homes, people attending Mosques have all been murdered and are murdered routinely by US and its NATO puppets.

Each time civilians are murdered, the US denies it, only to be contradicted every time by the evidence.

Why is the president of the United States contemplating sending yet tens of thousands more US troops to kill people in Afghanistan?

The answer is that the United States is an immoral country, with an immoral people and an immoral government. Americans no longer have a moral conscience. They have gone over to the Dark Side.

Humanity has endeavored for millennia to control evil with morality. In the American “superpower,” this effort has collapsed and failed.

The United States needs to be censured for its immoral behavior, not have that behavior rationalized as being in its material interests.


Barack Obama DOES NOT Speak for Me! by Cindy Sheehan

Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald: The ‘real’ history of Afghanistan

Noam Chomsky: Afghanistan – it’s one of the most immoral acts in history!

Lessons In Disaster! The Path To War In Vietnam + Obama embarks on Asian tour

Fort Hood, Veterans Day And Defending America by Rick Rozoff

6 thoughts on “Morality vs. Material Interests – Myths of Our Time By Paul Craig Roberts

  1. We can resurrect the moral conscience we are all looking for, and we must do so! Where is the moral conscience? Well here we are !

    The media portrays only a few thousand deaths of Iraqis that were ‘necessary’ to remove the barbaric psycho named Saddam.

    I actually had a conversation with an Army Reserve member this weekend who tells me that only our soldiers in Afghanistan have ‘prevented another attack on America’.

    I wonder if this is how ‘good Germans’ talked to each other in 1939? Or even 49?

    We each have an obligation to tell our own truth to whoever will listen.

    During Nam, remember it was fear of nuclear war with the Soviets birthing out of the Nam war that got people aroused too, as well as the draft and the far more independent and truthful media.

    The media back then told their own truth after the govt had lied enough….today, it is the alternative media that does so, not the corporate nonsense on cable.

    Stand the high ground. The average American on the street would not harm an innocent Iraqi, but like ‘good Germans’ they are not aware of their own complicity.

    All we can do is not wait for moral conscience. We need to BE it, in our writing, speaking, talking to each other in communities like this one. In the voting booth, at the dinner table.

    America has become a bully, and the world will get bullied only so long before there is a virulent reaction…passive Americans may be in for a rude awakening when, like the good Germans, a dose of reality hits them and they see what their govt has become, what it has wrought in its hubris and its lies…

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  3. The immorality of US citizens astounds me. Recently while being driven over 250 miles for a doctor’s appointment, the very conservative driver, who had been a member of the air forces and laterin the reserve, fell to talking. I asked him what he thought of torture and Guantanamo, pointing out it was against the uniform military code, and long been known to produce counterproductive results. his answer was, “There’s a lot of wiggle room in terms of terrorist.”

    How the hell is there “wiggle room?” Torture is torture, and if we, as a government, a collective group of people, condone torture, we are no better than terrorist, and in many ways worse, because have systematically abandoned our moral compass.

    What brought the Vietnam War (it was never actually declared a war) to an end was the convergence of many factors. Morally the government and people of the US have never passed the hurdle that Vietnam raised. Vietnam allowed corporation to take over and concentrate wealth into fewer and fewer hands, hands that don’t give a damn for anything but the bottom line.

    Many excuses can be made for the American public, and their lack of morality, their lack of interest in what is happening i the larger world outside its boundaries, and what is being done in their name by the government that most of them don’t even take the time to elect.

    it boils down to the fact that most of the American public are a lousy, overfed, under-educated (it’s not for a lack of spending money) population that truly deserve what they get–a corporacy.

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