%-) | 01.11.2002 12:02
Hundreds of years ago no one had any illusions about what war was for. The British military forces were frequently involved in protecting the commercial interests of the king. The Royal Navy even operated as pirates. There was rarely any mention of "just" war or policing the world. Armies were there to protect, enforce, enrich and maintain the power and wealth of those who could afford to employ hundreds of young men and arm them with whatever killing technology they could put their hands on. From time to time these forces would be mobilised against invading forces, but at the end of the day the invaders really only represented a change of ruler.
Those armies of the past were funded in the same way as they are today. Taxation. But somewhere along the line we achieved democracy. No longer were the people being taxed and ruled by hereditry monarchs. A democratic state emerged that took over the reigns and the purse strings. But nothing really changed. The people that once sought to gain the favour and influence the monarch now turned their attention (and money) to the democratic state. The courtiers were always fickle, and continue to flirt with whoever makes it to the top.
What has changed is the expectation of the public. Once subjects, we are now told that we hold the power. We pick and choose who is elected. They are answerable to us. After all, we fund the majority of the activities of the state through the various taxes we pay. We should have a say in how our money is spent. How foolish we are. Our governments are willing to fight to stop us from voicing our concerns. There were at least as many police mobilised against us yesterday as there were protesters. Giant fences surround parliament. This is the democracy we live in.
We should be under no illusions that any war brought about by the rulers will be in our name. They are fighting in the name of the people who they rub shoulders with on a daily basis. The people who's kids go to the same schools as theirs. The people who gave the money that allowed them to get into office. The people who stand to gain from war. They are all mates looking out for each other. Only they use our money to enable their actions, and our votes to legitimise their action.
Our democracy is a fraud. It needs replacing. We are up against armies and police. They stand between us and democracy. Our protests against war in Iraq represent a similar (though personally far less risky) battle to that the people of Iraq face against their own rulers.