As the economic assault on middle class America continues one government institution profits from this condition. Our division into identity groups has long been supported by corporate capital to strengthen the myths of equality and meritocracy, and to keep us competitively consuming without questioning the system of consumptive competition. But one public entity has been the greatest beneficiary of affirmative action programs.
Working class minorities and women have found the U.S. armed forces the most accessible entry point in attaining jobs and an education. The present situation and the all volunteer armed forces has meant a recruiting bonanza as people with other economic doors slammed in their faces gravitate to the military. Unfortunately this puts them on the front lines of supposed defense of a nation which has not been threatened by outside force for nearly two hundred years, since the War of 1812.
We presently spend more than 600 billion dollars a year on the military, conduct offensive wars in two nations and maintain more than 700 bases in foreign countries. Our military is a global police force for an empire which costs us trillions of dollars, thousands of lives and creates more enemies for America. Defense?
This is just one major contradiction in policies that ostensibly benefit groups suffering as outsiders by making some of their members alleged insiders. But their minority success is purchased by a majority which is failing. While some women and minorities rise in status, unemployment and debt are sinking much larger groups of citizens, obviously including minorities and women. No matter how we are ethnically, racially or sexually categorized, most of us are of an economic class kept divided by designations which become almost religious in that faithful beliefs in our differences have almost as much to do with them as material evidence for their existence.
We certainly have a murderous history of racist oppression of Africans in the worst possible attack on human rights, then continued with a warped institutional base which reduced others to sub-citizen status. But while many of us still suffer severe disadvantage, rewarding only some , and then in a contradictory fashion, is hardly the way to bring the whole society into a balance of equality and justice. As long as our economics totally negate any possibility of real equality but only a facade perpetuated by the minority of wealth with the most power, we cannot achieve a just society but one with justice for some only at the expense of everyone else .
Science clearly finds that we are one race with geographic differences in how we look but none in how we are biologically composed. Cultural differences are learned behaviors that have absolutely nothing to do with skin tone, sex, religious or ideological belief. We need a serious discussion of this to identify the enormous problems we face as a class in this political economy. Unfortunately, ruling divisions that treat us as individuals except when confined to subjugated identity groups, but collectively regard us as a massive consumer mob have so far prevented that discussion.
Among those reduced to being social outcasts, homosexuals have fought to be openly and honestly themselves and not live in shadows. Forcing people to lie about who they are is antihuman and the move towards openness is a positive step for all society. But finding this freedom in the military is a perverse blessing. That a community based on what was once called “the love that dare not speak its name” would derive liberation from being allowed to openly perform as warriors is a social pathology. Whether the president was sincere or not, his plea for equal rights by ending the policy of homosexuals remaining secretive in the service or losing their jobs is twisted political logic. And foolishness about macho warriors is more outdated than bigoted discrimination against gays and lesbians. Any child can sit at a console and push buttons that send weapons to blow up humans thousands of miles away. The Hollywood idea of war is a product of affluent image creators who wouldn’t know physical combat from physical labor. But these myths must be confronted and not perpetuated by groups among us led to believe they are somehow liberated by participation in the most wretched and immoral social operation we can imagine.
Gays are not unique in being manipulated into thinking they can achieve equality only by uncritically accepting all established institutions , as long as they can participate in them. These are the outcomes of every effort to advance specific groups only by advantaging select members of the group, which in our economy always means at the expense of others. But to consider it progress to be an open, honest participant in the actions of mass murder and cleansed by the diabolically deceitful name of defense is a moral tragedy.
As is too often the case, such alleged equalities are negative rather than affirmative. Being “allowed” to participate in the market place in the same destructive economy previously dominated by others, or to act as grasping, selfish and egocentric as the profiteering minority that still rules the economy, can only be seen as affirmative by a confused population. The majority of us who support continued destruction of the social and natural environment by our forced divisions into competing cross purposes need to learn that we are a common race and class, with common interests in our survival. Those will not be satisfied if we are reduced to acting as singularly identified groups, members of a ruled class endangering our future by not acting together in the present. None of us, gay, straight or neuter, should buy into this military lie, nor the crippled system it supports.