Echoing Noam Chomsky's point from episode 622, David Graeber reminds us that after the end of the Cold War, far from being dismantled, the military machine was ratcheted up. The truth is, he says, that the rationale of defense from the foreign threats was not the main purpose. More important was its role as part of what he terms "The Vast Machine To Perpetuate Hopelessness".
"The last 30 years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus for the creation and maintenance of hopelessness, a giant machine designed first and foremost to destroy any sense of possible alternative futures. At its root is a veritable obsession on the part of the rulers of the world - in response to the upheavals of the 60's and 70's - with ensuring that social movements cannot be seen to grow, flourish or propose alternatives. That those who challenge existing power arrangements can never under any circumstances can never be seen to win. Maintaining this illusion requires armies, prisons, police and private security firms to create a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity and despair. All these guns, surveillance cameras and propaganda engines are extraordinarily expensive and produce nothing — they're economic deadweights that are dragging the entire capitalist system down." — David Graeber
To begin to free ourselves, Graeber writes, the first thing we need to do is to begin to see ourselves as historical actors whose actions can make a difference. I hope that this how will help you to do that, and to that end we'll continue next week with another of Professor Wolff's lectures on Marxian economics.